Labour trouble almost halts production at Heros Haridwar plant

Written by Roudra Bhattacharya | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 31 2013, 05:06am hrs
Labour trouble surfaced at Hero MotoCorps Haridwar plant on Thursday night, disrupting production, multiple sources told FE.

The dispute arose over an alleged suspension notice to a permanent worker though workers say the larger issue is recognition of a union at Haridwar. With nearly all of the around 3,000 workers (450 permanent, the rest temporary and apprentices) taking part in the protest, the plant on Friday produced about 500 units, compared with its over 9,000 units daily capacity. An email query sent to the company remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

The Haridwar unit is Hero MotoCorps newest and largest facility, making mass models like the Splendor and Passion in three shifts. The Gurgaon and Dharuhera plants, in comparison, produce about 6,000 units a day, but have over 1,000 permanent workers. The tension between the management and workers has surfaced just four months after a deal with protesting workers at the Gurgaon plant.

Both permanent and temporary workers are currently holding a sit-in protest at the facility and have stopped all production from 10 pm on Thursday. The current issue is over the management asking a worker to leave on flimsy grounds, but workers have been having problems with the company over attempts to register a new union since the start of this year, a source close to the development said.

A worker at the plant added, We will not start production till the suspended worker is taken back. Most of us are on strike, only a few apprentices worked today, producing around 500 units.

A union member from Heros Gurgaon plant added that as of Friday workers from the C and A shift at Haridwar are protesting inside the factory while the B shift workers are outside the plant gate. We are also supporting the protests from here and plan to speak to the management to resolve the matter soon. If needed, we may soon go to Haridwar to meet the workers and find a peaceful solution to the dispute, he said.

Industry analysts said the work stoppage might prove untimely for Hero with the festive season demand boost around the corner for which the company is currently building inventory by increasing production. In fact, the Haridwar plant makes the mass segment models, which are the mainstay of Heros portfolio.

Just a few weeks ago, Heros traditional rival, Pune-based Bajaj Auto has been able to bring back striking workers at its Chakan plant to the negotiating table after losing production of about 30,000 bikes over two months.

Hero itself resolved a wage dispute with the union at its Gurgaon plant in April this year by giving a Rs 9,000 per month average hike across a three-year wage deal, despite demands of a close to Rs 18,000 hike.

In the last few years, the auto sector has lately been plagued by a series of labour disputes across companies like Bajaj Auto, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra, Hyundai and General Motors. The most extreme case in recent times was the labour clash at Marutis Manesar plant in July 2012 that claimed the life of a company official and injured close to 100.

Hero MotoCorps volumes in July went up 0.7% at 4.87 lakh units due to sluggish market demand. The Hero share the BSE closed 2.90% up on the BSE at Rs 2,030.10 on Friday.